When it comes to choosing where to escape to, inspiring shows such as Ewan McGregor’s Long Way Round and Comic Relief’s ongoing celebrity challenges have had a dramatic impact on travel styles in recent years, helping ensure adventure travel is increasingly on the holiday map.
In addition to raising millions, last year’s images of Cheryl Cole and Chris Moyles summiting Mount Kilimanjaro resulted in a 400% increase in bookings to Africa’s highest mountain. This year’s A Passport to Adventure travel trend report published by TUI Travel Adventure Companies revealed that 190% of holidaymakers are more likely to take an adventure holiday in the next three years than in the previous three.


Significantly, the research flagged that ‘off the beaten track’ holidays were most likely to be remembered as customers feel they have learnt something and had an authentic experience. This ‘memorable’ figure jumps from an average of 54% across all holiday types to 80% when related to an activity or adventure holiday, highlighting how the increasing demand for a meaningful holiday will ensure the adventure travel industry will continue to grow significantly over the coming year.

What’s more, small group travel is forecast to increase to nearly eight million adults over the next three years, with 61% of those who have taken a small group adventure holiday saying they will take another one. A world away from the traditional ‘shop and flop’ style getaway, part of the appeal of a group adventure holiday is the buzz of sharing new experiences with a dozen other like-minded people. And best of all for many, this style of trip frequently avoids the dreaded single supplement.

The result of not being penalised for going solo is that over 50% of Imaginative Travellers ’s groups are people holidaying independently. Whichever continent our guests are travelling in, the team simply arranged twin-share accommodation with another tour member of the same sex, making our 200 plus tours a great value way to meet like-minded travellers whilst enjoying an affordable adventure . Whilst the solo traveller may be well catered for in the world of adventure travel, it is important that agents are equally mindful of the range of holidays available for this market. For evidence of this we need look no further than the Office of National Statistics whose figures indicate that 39% of the adult population is single and that this is expected to see a 31% increase by 2033. Similarly, in 2007 one in four 25-44 year olds were considered single (3.8million), a figure which is predicted to rise by 50% over the next 20 years to 5.7million.

With single lifestyles now more associated with independence than Bridget Jones, the appeal of a small group tour is understandable. In an increasingly time-poor age, this type of tour offers holidaymakers the freedom to explore the world in good company. Equally, the carefully designed itineraries remove any potential hassle, instead making every moment of their week or fortnight’s break count. However, that isn’t to say that all solo traveller s are single. One side-effect of the recession and subsequent change of financial circumstances is that previous travel companions – whether partners, friends or family – may no longer be able to afford to holiday as far afield as they had hoped.

Conversely, there is an increasing trend for those who have been made redundant to take advantage of the lack of work-related constraints and impromptu ‘career break’ to head off exploring Though especially true of those who may have missed out on a Gap Year, would-be travellers are fast waking up to the fact that they can get to the heart of a country, stay with people they’ve only read about, visit places they never thought they’d get to and see more of the world in a short space of time – and without it costing the earth.

Whilst certain iconic trekking tours such as those to Everest and Kilimanjaro may previously have attracted a larger percentage of solo male travellers whose other halves were less inclined to ‘peak bag’, this trend for couples travelling independently is fast spreading across other activity holidays. Indeed, there is a growing trend for women choosing active or wildlife focused holidays and single professionals – particularly females – is one of the demographic groups that TUI’s report indicated future demand will increase significantly from. Whether they’re new to adventure travel, keen to try a more exotic holiday style or have their heart set on ticking a destination off their ‘must-see’ list, the combination of a ready-made support group, a local leader to ensure the group is well looked after throughout and the big discounts involved in not travelling alone mean this is an area agents need to increasingly keep front of mind.

Despite the challenging economic climate, time away is no longer considered an optional luxury and the need for affordable adventures has never been more relevant. And so, with so many new holiday styles opening up, this is the idea time for travellers – whatever their status - to dust down that spirit of adventure and enjoy a ‘once in a lifetime’ holiday experience.

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